(Some of) My Social Mistakes

Having a dual nationality family can sometimes lead to confusion, especially in social settings (and any other setting I guess!) Some things that I take for granted are just not done in England, and the other way around. Here are some examples of “wrong” things that I have done…

(I am sure there are other as well and probably lots that I don’t know about!)

Let’s start with the small things such as going to the kitchen to get a drink without offering everybody else in the vicinity something from the kitchen as well, I was told pretty fast that I was being terribly rude, so I never did that again…

Once, many years ago, my now husband and I was having breakfast and we had some toast (very English;  they like to toast their bread all the time, and no home is complete without a toaster!), and I held the slice of bread in my hand whilst applying butter, but so called “aerial buttering” is apparently not acceptable!

When the wee lad was christened last year we first had a celebration here in Norway. For all sorts of gatherings that include gifts (christenings, weddings etc) it is very common in Norway to display all the gifts on a “gift table”, so that all the guests can admire the gifts.  I believe this was a bit surprising to the English part of the family, all though I did not realise this until we had a similar gathering in England the week after where I was told that it was best not unwrap or display the presents.

Then the other day we had a sit down lunch at work where I happened to be sitting next to an English guy that I work with and who has been living in Norway for many years. It was a warm lunch and all the women at the table was served first – and I have always been told that if you get served something warm then you are supposed to start eating straight away – if it is a cold dish, then you are supposed to wait until everybody at your table has been served before you tuck in.  I have just always taken this for granted (all though I have learned over the years that it is always best to watch what other people do). But my English colleague then pointed out to me that this “rule” about warm or cold dishes is a Norwegian rule, and that if you are in England you are supposed to wait no matter what the temperature of the dish is. Even after 8 years in England I didn’t know!

It is just so easy to commit a “faux pas” without even realising it! What have you done?

The book “Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners” can be bought here.


7 Comments to “(Some of) My Social Mistakes”

  1. LOL Kjenner meg igjen ja!!

  2. A, jeg matte le av innlegget ditt! Jo, jeg har nok gjort mine brolere, jeg ogsa! Kommer ikke pa dem i farta – kanskje jeg har vaert her borte for lenge, men far stadig hore at nordmenn er sa direkte. Sjefen min innrommer at han fikk litt ‘bakoversveis’ av meg til a begynne med for jeg sa alltid ting som de var uten a pakke det inn… Og jeg som alltid har fatt hore hjemme i Norge at jeg er sa ‘diplomatisk’…

    Det med a ikke pakke opp gavene gjelder ogsa for barna ved bursdagsselskaper. Mor/far samler inn gavene nar gjestene kommer og nar alle er gatt sa far bursdagbarnet apne gavene… Yep, ting er annerledes her borte 😉

    ha en fin fin dag!
    klem mette

  3. Hei Mette, godt at jeg ikke er den eneste som noen ganger er “typisk norsk” – uten en gang å vite om det! 🙂
    Mange ting tenkte jeg ikke på før jeg kom hjem igjen hit og oppdaget at jeg var blitt vant til den engelske væremåte, da først gikk det opp for meg de rare tingene jeg hadde gjort 🙂

  4. I didn`t realise that only making/getting yourself a drink was a widespread occurence until I read this, I thought it was just my better half living in his own little bubble, deep in thought…(and yes, I do often retort into the void with a sarky “Yes, I´ll have a cup too please since you ask”)

    • And I always thought it was my husband and familly who were “strange” expecting to always be offered (or having to offer) something to everybody all the time – until a friend of mine complained about her Norwegian husband, and how he would just go into the kitchen and help himself, without offering 🙂 Strange isn’t it that we all just take it for granted that the way we are used to doing things is normal! I now ask my husband if he would like a drink everytime I get myself one, and the conversation goes something like this: “Would you like something to drink” – “Yes plesase” – “What would you like” – “I don’t know…” – I am getting slightly annoyed – “What are you having…” (hinting that he would like the kettle to be put on, but he doesn’t want to be an inconvience)… and about five minutes later we have finally sorted out what to get from the kitchen! It would just be so much quicker if I could just go and get myself that glass of water without having to announce it to the world! 🙂

  5. Soooo interesting to heat about these differences Asta! Thanks for sharing =)

  6. And thank you for reading! 🙂

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